Top home improvement retailer Home Depot posted a fourth quarter net loss on Tuesday after charges tied to store closures, and said operating profit per share would fall in 2009.

Home Depot, which is cutting 7,000 jobs as it shutters its Expo Design Center chain and trims corporate costs, also said it would open fewer new stores this year.

The quarterly loss came to $54 million, or 3 cents a share, for the quarter ended February 1, compared with earnings of $671 million, or 40 cents a share, a year earlier.

The latest period included a pretax charge of $387 million tied to the Expo closure and a $163 million writedown of an investment. Excluding those items, profit from continuing operations was 19 cents a share, better than analysts average estimate of 15 cents a share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Sales fell 17 percent to $14.6 billion.

(Reporting by Karen Jacobs; Editing by Derek Caney)